David Tanis has an armchair approach to talking about cooking that allows you to feel as though your best friend were slicing vegetables and chopping herbs right next to you.
Recently, he did just that with me, first at the Hollywood Farmers Market to shop for produce and then back at The Times’ new test kitchen, where he created three dishes with what he found at the market, each emblematic of his simple, reverent style of cooking.
Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad With Bitter Lettuces
“This salad has a nice combination of sweet and bitter, my favorite flavor pairing. The proportions of the salad are whatever you want them to be, so if you like more or less of one fruit or lettuce, do that. You can also use any kind of citrus here; whatever you have on hand. If you don’t have lettuce, the fruit is a great salad in and of itself with a few mint leaves added. It would be great with some slivered fennel too.”
Peel 3 ripe Fuyu persimmons, then cut them in half. Cut each half lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices. Add them to a large bowl, then cut open 2 medium pomegranates and pick out the arils, letting them fall over the persimmons. Season the fruit with salt and pepper, then squeeze over the juice of 1 large Meyer lemon. Drizzle over a few tablespoons of olive oil, then use your hands to toss everything together until the fruit is well-dressed. Pick apart the leaves of 1 head of Treviso or radicchio and the tender inner leaves of 1 head of Castelfranco lettuce and add them to the bowl. Gently drag the leaves through the juices of the fruit and vinaigrette. Taste for more seasoning and serve.
Radish Salad With Lime and Parmesan
“It’s nice to make salads out of things you normally wouldn’t, like this one that’s mostly radishes. If I was going to make this without greens, I’d just spoon over some crème fraîche. Thinly sliced black radishes with crème fraîche and salt are so tasty. Think of a salad that way: some kind of seasoned and dressed plant matter. This is great on its own or served with a piece of roast chicken.”
Peel and thinly slice 2 medium radishes, such as watermelon or other sweet varieties, then add them to a large bowl. Season the slices with salt and pepper, then drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from 1 large lime in strips, then very finely mince the zest. (Alternatively, use a microplane to finely grate the zest from the lime.) Scatter the lime zest evenly over the radishes. Cut the lime in half and squeeze its juice over the slices too. Toss the radishes to evenly coat with the dressing. Add the trimmed leaves from 1 bunch of mature arugula and toss them with the radishes and dressing until well-coated. Use a vegetable peeler to remove large shavings from a wedge of Parmesan and let them fall over the top of the salad until evenly covered before serving.
King Oyster and Wood Ear Mushrooms With Cilantro Persillade
“The counterplay between the meaty king oyster mushrooms and the thin, crunchy wood ear mushrooms makes it an exciting dish. A simple persillade, traditionally a mix of minced parsley and garlic, is made here with cilantro and livens up the hearty mushrooms. Serve this on its own as a vegetarian main dish or as a side to pork chops or roast beef or game.”
Trim any tough or dried bottoms from 6 large king oyster mushrooms, then use a paring knife or a vegetable peeler to remove the bottom inch of outer skin from the stems, if you like. Cut the king oyster mushrooms lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices.
If using a grill, brush the oyster mushroom slices with olive oil. If using a skillet, heat a thin film of olive oil in the bottom of a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the slices to the skillet (or to a hot grill), season with salt and pepper and cook, flipping halfway, until deep golden brown all over, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer the slices to a serving plate and remove the skillet from the heat.
While the mushrooms cook, make the persillade. Rip off 2 to 3 sprigs’ worth of cilantro leaves and soft stems from a bunch and place on a cutting board. Place 2 peeled garlic cloves on the cilantro and mince the two together.
Return the skillet to medium heat and add a couple more tablespoons of olive oil. Add 1 cup fresh wood ear mushrooms, season with salt and sprinkle over the persillade. Cook, tossing often, just until the mushrooms are hot and the garlic is no longer raw, 30 to 60 seconds. Scatter the wood ear mushrooms over the oyster mushroom slices, then top with more fresh cilantro leaves to serve.